Venezuela Hit With ‘Do Not Travel’ Advisory By State Department
By Sharelle Burt
Things just got worse for travelers heading to Venezuela.
The State Department has issued a level four travel advisory, warning travelers not to go to the South American country. The political and economic crisis in Venezuela has prompted the warning after the Trump administration pushed for President Nicolas Maduro to be removed and instead recognize Juan Guaido, head of Venezuela’s opposition-led National Assembly, as the country’s interim president.
The United States government is limited in assisting Americans who go over there against the advisory, citing “crime, civil unrest, poor health infrastructure, and arbitrary arrest and detention of U.S. citizens.”
Starting at a level three advisory last week, the State Department raised the warning to level four given the severity of the situation, noting that violent crime is common, food and medical shortages are severe and random demonstrations “typically elicit a strong police and security force response.” This level places Venezuela in the same category as North Korea and Syria.
UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet warned Friday that the situation in Venezuela could very easily “spiral out of control with catastrophic consequences.”
Many anti-Maduro protesters have taken over the streets, engaging in violence amid the government crackdown. The United Nations has reported that at least 20 people have been killed, allegedly shot by Maduro-controlled security officers or other pro-government forces. Officials even had to clear out the U.S. embassy in Caracas, except for essential staff. Venezuela is the only country in the Western Hemisphere that is on the State Department’s “Do Not Travel” list, even though there are parts of Mexico where drug cartels and criminal gangs are highly active and have been designated at Level 4.
Updating advisories is something that the State Department does on the regular, informing U.S. citizens on the travel conditions outside of state lines, ranging from level one, or “exercise normal precautions” to level four, or “do not travel.”